England head coach Eddie Jones backs James Haskell to take second chance

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Eddie Jones insists the prize of a second chance could propel James Haskell back into the England team for their NatWest 6 Nations title defence.

The openside position is shrouded in uncertainty at the moment with Tom Curry ruled out until late March by a fractured wrist and Sam Underhill yet to play since being concussed against Australia in the autumn.

Haskell was a permanent fixture in the back row for Jones’ first year in charge before a toe injury resulted in a slump in form and his last England appearance was against Ireland last March.

Injuries could open the door for a James Haskell return
Injuries could open the door for a James Haskell return (Nigel French/PA)

The 32-year-old is intent on a Test return, claiming last week he can “still do a job” after “getting right back up there to my best” and Jones agrees.

“Every game he’s played for Wasps he’s got a little bit better. He trained well this week, showed plenty of energy,” said Jones, speaking at the squad’s two-day camp in Brighton.

“Sometimes the second chance is something that creates a bit of momentum in the player, so we’ll wait and see how he gets on.”

A date for Underhill’s return has yet to be set due to the persistent symptoms he has been suffering since being knocked out against the Wallabies.

“It’s ongoing return to play for concussion. You never know – he could be right tomorrow,” Jones said.

“Rugby treats these things seriously, which it should. We’ll just have to wait and see.

“We’ve got plenty of options at seven. We have Haskell and Gary Graham, who has impressed at this camp.

“We can always push Chris Robshaw across if we need to. We’re not short of options.”

Leicester Tigers v Benetton Treviso – European Champions Cup – Pool Four – Welford Road
Manu Tuilagi is on the comeback trail from knee surgery (Mike Egerton/PA)

Manu Tuilagi is three matches into his comeback from knee surgery, the latest setback of an injury-blighted four years, but Jones insists more club outings are needed before he is considered for the Six Nations.

“Manu is a guy we’ve continually got our eye on. I went to watch him play for Leicester specifically on Sunday. He’s got some work to do,” Jones said.

“We’ve worked with Leicester and he just needs some good training time and game time. Then we’ll appraise him.”

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